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Volume 3, Number 4
April, 1998

Sympathy for the Devil - Endgame

reportage by Dean Shutt

 The light streamed in the window like a laser beam and I was instantly awake. Years of journalistic experience and training came into play as I scanned the room and attempted to determine where I was and how I had gotten there. In a flash I remembered it all, the drive to Phoenix, the trouble with the Radio Nazis, the strip club episode and the Indian Casino all came flooding back into my consciousness. My associate slumbered heavily over on his side of the room, the restraints rising and falling with his snores. The tranquilizer dosage seemed to have been just about right. Bud Selig's press conference was two hours away, surely he would be wide awake and alert by then and it would just be a matter of pointing him at his personal demon and stepping aside. The carnage would be memorable and I would be out of town before anyone could tie this twisted goon to me.
 I wandered down to the hotel bar/restaurant to grab some breakfast for my associate and myself. I figured I would need to get him back on my side for at least a little while. If I could keep him calm long enough to get him to the ballpark everything should be fine. Sure, he hated me and wanted to see me stomped like a bug, but once he got to the park and caught sight of Selig I would be quickly forgotten. After all, my associate was a homicidal lunatic, but he did have his priorities straight.
 He was groggily coming around as I entered the room with breakfast (which his gold card had so thoughtfully provided). At the sight of me he was fully awake with a manic gleam in his eye. I plopped down in the chair opposite his bed and fired up the first cigarette of day while he struggled with the leather restraints.
 "Listen to me, you wretched bastard!" he said with menace in his voice.
 "No, you listen to me you pathetic troll," I said calmly, "You thought you could do away with me and have the story for yourself, didn't you?"
 "That's a lie, we're pals, compadres, I would never hurt you man." he replied in what I am sure he thought was a sincere manner.
 "Don't bullshit me pinhead," I said with an even tone, " I am a professional journalist and I know the tricks of the trade. I'm not blaming you. You've been whipping on amateurs for awhile now and you thought you could get away with it. You just found out that the action moves a little faster in the big leagues."
 "That's a lie," He snarled, "Let me out of here or I'll snap you like a twig."
 "Doubtful," I replied, maintaining my composure, "The fact is I could snuff you right now and there isn't thing you could do about it."
 "Hah, you can't do away with me without doing time." he screamed, "You wouldn't last thirty seconds in prison and you know it."
 "That is true," I observed, "Save for the fact that no one knows that I am here except for you. The room, the Press Passes, Hell, even the bar tab is in your name. As far as the legal authorities are concerned I'm a ghost. I could be halfway to Rio before they even found your carcass." I didn't catch his reply through the whimpering; he was obviously defeated and was just hoping for a quick end.
 "Don't worry," I soothed, "We are associates after all, I need you to finish the story. Besides the true enemy is afoot. It will take both of us to teach the swine a lesson he won't forget."
 "Yanni is here!" he screamed in a rage.
 "No, my psychotic friend," I replied, " The real enemy..."
 "Selig?" he said.
 "Yes bunky, Selig walks among us, spreading his vile disease through the Arizona desert even as we speak."
 "I want him, let me out of these damned things" he howled as he tried again to burst his bonds.
 "Patience my friend," I said, " In just over an hour you and I will be at his press conference. Then he will be yours and I will get the story... our story."
 Tears of joy glistened on his cheeks as I undid the heavy leather straps. We were both on the same team again. There was a greater evil to be dealt with now.
 We headed towards the stadium in a cheerful mood, I was on my third pot of coffee and just starting to feel the caffeine begin to do its job. My associate had his insanity to keep him awake and was not in need of outside stimulus. We arrived at the gate and signed for our passes. We had requested them under the auspices of the Santa Cruz Herald, which of course didn't exist. Luckily they never check details like that during spring training and we were in without a fuss. As we were making our way to the press lounge my associate had an unsettling moment of clarity and pulled up short.
 "What is our plan for handling this vicious bastard anyway?" He asked.
 "We are professional journalists, my friend," I replied cheerfully, "Plans are for the timid and the weak, we are giants, we have no need of plans, we will improvise as needed."
 For some reason, this pleased him to no end, he headed off towards the lounge muttering about "stomping the pinheaded bastards" and grinning wildly. I followed with a song in my heart; I of course had a plan. Improvisation is wonderful for as far as it goes, but to get down and root with the hogs you need a strategy. Mine was developing beautifully.
 We entered the press lounge just as the conference was starting. Selig was droning on about making the game relevant for the nineties and all of the hacks were scribbling in their pads as though this chimpanzee was actually saying something worthwhile. I turned to my associate but he was gone, moving through the working press like a shark through the water. I was stunned that he had moved so fast. I was expecting him to least hit the buffet before he attacked, but he had other ideas. I, on the other hand, was starving, and moved to load up on the free food before the room exploded.
 As it turns out I was just in time, as I loaded up my third plate and dumped the contents in my briefcase for later, I glanced towards the front of the room. Selig was just finishing a thought when my associate caught him alongside his head with a cheese log he had grabbed from the buffet table. Selig crumpled like a Dixie cup as my associate screamed, "I am the Swine King, Death to the Pretender!!!" and put the boots to the whimpering "acting commissioner" of major league baseball. I expected the security goons to jump him at any moment, yet strangely, no one moved as he flogged the hapless Selig like a rented mule. I was frankly impressed. I had expected him to go quite mad when he met up with Selig. I had expected violence and general panic to ensue. I hadn't expected the bravura performance I was seeing, though. A tear came to my eye as my associate, for just a moment, reminded the vengeful trolls like Selig and his ilk what it was to tempt the beast. I nearly wept with joy as this crazy fool that I called my associate reminded us all that giants still roamed the earth.
 Just then the doors at the front of the room burst open and security moved towards my screaming associate. At that point he pulled one of the heavy leather restraints from his pants and lashed at the stunned security men. I am quite certain that they hadn't expected having to deal with a crazed fan screaming "turf sucks, kill the designated hitter, McKinley in '98!!!" while he beat their nominal boss like a gong. At a gig like this they probably hadn't expected any worse than a drunken beat reporter from Des Moines. It just goes to show what a lack of preparation will do to you.
 They set to their grim task though, and I knew that it was simply a matter of time before they subdued him. My associate was clearly tiring and Selig had managed to crawl through the pressbox window into the stands below. This did the evil rat bastard no good however, as young boys followed him down the aisle, kicking him and shouting "Bart Giamatti lives!" It was time for the plan to go into action. I picked up a bowl of potato salad and tossed the contents onto the herd of milling journalists in the center of the room. As I slipped out the side door I screamed, "Death to the tyrant, Cuba for the Cubans!" This caused another uproar and I made good my escape.
 I raced back to the room in the ÜberGeo, going over the plan in my head. I figured that it wouldn't be long before they subdued my insane associate and he fingered me. He was a psychopath, but he wasn't stupid, and if he could roll over and give me up he would do so in a heartbeat. My pulse was pounding as I packed up the contents of the room and hightailed it out of town as fast as the Übergeo could carry me.
 It was about ten minutes after I had cleared the city limits when I noticed the ringing coming from the glove box. I popped it open, expecting the worst, and saw that it was my associate's cellphone. I knew immediately who it was and happily answered.
 "Hello," I sang.
 "I'm showed him didn't I?" my associate crowed, "I beat that egg sucking dog like a piece of cheap meat."
 "That you did friend," I echoed, "That you did."
 "So when are you coming to bail me out?" he asked.
 "Oh I'm not getting within a hundred miles of that cesspool you're in right now." I said happily.
 "What are you talking about?" he screamed, "Where the hell are you!"
 "I'm on the open road, friend." I replied.
 "Get your ass down here right now or I'll tear out your eyes and fuck your skull, you lousy two-timing bastard." he bellowed, full of hate and vengeance.
 "I don't think so, Armando," I cackled back at him, "Check your Press Pass brainiac, you signed in as Armando De La Porta, top reporter from the Havana Bulletin. That was a real nice political demonstration you staged back there. I'm sure that Castro will be pleased when they deport your ass back to Cuba."
 "I'll turn you in you sonofabitch," he screamed, rage now replaced by panic in his voice, "I'll drop a dime on your ass so fast it'll make your head spin."
 "Try again Armando," I said, warming to the task, " Once Selig and his goons are done with you, you won't have a windpipe to tell anybody anything. And when Fidel gets his hands on you your life won't be worth a wooden peso. It's over asshole, you wanted to play with the big boys and you got your wish in spades."
 "Please, don't do this," he begged, "You know what a morally bankrupt jackal Selig is, you know what they'll do to me down here, please..."
 The line went dead then, I tossed "Armando's" cellphone out the window and cranked up the stereo. I headed north to Vegas, a professional journalist on R&R with a story in his pocket and a Gold card in his hand. Everything had turned out according to plan after all...
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